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January 13, 2009

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MINI Convertible Makes World Debut At NAIAS 2009

Woodcliff Lake, NJ - MINI introduced the next generation of its celebrated four-seat convertible at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Joining the 2009 MINI Convertibles on the show floor is the MINI E, the first electric car deployed by a manufacturer of premium automobiles for private use in daily traffic.

The new 2009 MINI Convertible embodies the thrill of open-air motoring in unmistakably MINI style. Raising the high standard set by its predecessor, the new MINI Convertible features improvements in design, quality, handling, performance, efficiency and functionality. The first MINI Convertibles will be delivered March 28, 2009.

Design cues clearly link the new convertible to the MINI family, while the evolutionary design maintains the appeal of the first generation.

A sliding roof allows the driver to automatically open and close the soft top while the car travels up to 20 miles per hour. The "Openometer" records the time spent travelling with the roof down.

Central safety electronics activate a new electromechanically operated rollover bar in the event of a rollover. The innovative safety bar allows for optimum visibility to the rear and sides while the MINI avoids rollovers via run-flat tires, tire pressure monitoring and a sophisticated driving stability system.

An optional loading storage system between the luggage and passenger compartments expands cargo space. The easy-load system includes: an expanded luggage compartment opening, seat backrests that can be folded down and locked into position, and a pivoting, two-position shelf for packages.

A new generation of four-cylinder gasoline engines feature 1.6-liter engines. The MINI Cooper Convertible produces 118 horsepower from its naturally aspirated version with variable valve management; the MINI Cooper S Convertible delivers 172 hp with the help of a Twin-Scroll turbocharger and direct fuel injection. Both engine variants are equipped with technical features that maximize fuel economy and minimize emissions.

The suggested retail price for the MINI Cooper Convertible is $24,550, and for the MINI Cooper S Convertible, $27,450 including $650 destination and handling charge.

MINI E: Agility without emissions

The MINI E provides the agility and handling of a MINI Cooper yet is powered by a 204 horsepower electric motor fed by a high-performance rechargeable lithium-ion battery capable of more than 150 miles. Power transfers to the front wheels via a single-stage helical gearbox nearly without a sound and entirely free of emissions.

The MINI E's electric drivetrain produces seamless acceleration to 62 mph in 8.5 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 95 mph. With a suspension designed particularly for the MINI E and an even weight distribution, the MINI E offers the spirited driving pleasure of a true MINI.

During the first quarter of this year, the MINI E will become available to select private and corporate customers as part of a pilot project in California, New York and New Jersey. By introducing the MINI E, the BMW Group is underscoring its resolve to reduce energy consumption and emissions. Putting some 500 cars on the road under real daily traffic conditions will give BMW Group valuable know-how, which will be factored into the engineering of mass-produced vehicles. The BMW Group aims to start series production of all-electric vehicles over the medium term.

Based on the current MINI, the car will initially be available as a two-seater. The back-seat space is reserved for the lithium-ion battery. It can be plugged into all standard power outlets. Its charge time is strongly dependent on the voltage and amperage of the electricity flowing through the grid. In the USA, users can recharge a battery that has been completely drained within a very short period of time using a wall box that will be installed in the customer's garage to enable higher amperage. Wall boxes fully recharge batteries after a mere two-and-a-half hours.

MINI E customers will join forces with BMW Group experts to assist in the project's scientific evaluation. The cars will change hands based on a one-year lease with an extension option. Monthly lease installments will cover any required technical service including all necessary maintenance and the replacement of wear parts. At the end of the lease, all of the automobiles belonging to the project will be returned to the BMW Group's engineering fleet where they will be subjected to comparative tests.

Photos: BMW/MINI

(Jan 11, 2009)


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